Michael Golden: The Art and Business of Mosaics (Episode #29)

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  • May 22, 2015

Today on the show I have guest Michael Golden who is the Owner and Creative Director of Avenue Mosaic.

Michael shares his journey on his path to business ownership, including some of his successes and struggles along the way. Here’s a little more about Michael…

About Michael Golden

Michael Golden has always been fascinated with the creative process and production – not just in a general sense, but all the way down to the nitty gritty such as how an object is cast or how it could be further enhanced. He has devoted three decades to creating mosaics and the last five years to opening his own company, Avenue Mosaics. A low-tech, high-craft artisan production process is present in all of his mosaic designs and he seeks to create premier work for broads markets.
According to Michael, “You need to design products starting with all the production processes in mind first,” otherwise, if you do not know manufacturing, your ‘styling’ designs become a production force-fit resulting in three times plus costs.”
Since he was a child Michael was always artistically inclined and was fortunate that his parents encouraged his talent with drawing, clay and sculpture classes. They also exposed him to their own creative endeavors of a large scale office furniture production company and a custom artisan handbag and luggage company. These experiences instilled in Michael a life long curiosity of the creative process.
Michael chose to attend the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he majored in industrial design and minored in glass. While there, he learned to think like a product designer – to witness and master the production process at its core and bring aesthetic value to manufactured goods. This was the beginning of his attentiveness to sensitive design.
When he graduated RISD, Michael was encouraged to look for employment outside of the family’s furniture company. He decided to freelance – he created video graphics for MTV and CBS News, taught glass blowing and made custom lighting fixtures and furniture.
A year later, he was hired to create tile layouts at Hasting Tile by the company’s insightful president, Mario Paone. He worked there for five years, designing thousands of mosaic and tile installations, creating baths, pools, spas and entryways. He loved crafting unique designs, directing artisan workshops doing mosaic production and supervising on-site tradesmen during installation. It was this work that gave Michael a natural sense of how mosaic patterns and deco tiles form a room – a skill that would come in handy for his future endeavors at Avenue Mosaic. Of Michael Mr. Paone said “Michael has an innate sense of how to create designs of hand-laid stone mosaics.”
In an effort to expand his knowledge base, Michael left Hasting (on good terms), and over the next 12 years created elaborate custom interiors using ultra high-end treatments such as micro mosaics, water jet inlaid Terrazzo, Scaglio, dimensional Pietra Dura and seashell grotto mosaic interiors. He dramatically increased his knowledge of all forms of custom stone treatments by working with great craftsmen and through intense self-study. This work exposed him to amazing residencies, he became the go-to guy for any wild mosaic / hard surface treatment in New York City.
Having thoroughly explored exotic stone techniques, Michael now wanted to bring that knowledge back to his product design roots. He wanted to make aesthetically appealing mosaics at fair prices. He started down this path by designing Hirsch Glass’ iconic Silhouette collection using the roller mold production process in 2008, still a popular product among consumers. “Michael created a new chip and helped with colors, making an industry leading design,” Alex Xie, president of Hirsch Glass, said.
Soon Michael was recruited to become the creative director at Marble Systems. While there he focused on product development and general art direction, completely overhauling the company’s mosaic, trim and tile offerings. He took dozens of trips to Turkey and two trips to China within three years. Munir Turanc, the company’s owner, nicknamed Michael “ATM” because of his ability to come up with new ideas on the spot.
Michael continued to develop new and innovative mosaic designs on his own and in January 2010 he founded Avenue Mosaic to give himself more structure with which to market his work. At “Coverings” (trade show) 2010 Michael introduced 6 mosaic collections, being sold throughout the United States and Canada.  Every year since, he has developed and introduced 4 to 6 new collections at successive Coverings, leading the mosaics North American market with original, innovative designs.  Currently, Avenue Mosaics produces and markets 18 collections under what is called their Portfolio Group.
In 2012, Michael expanded his reach by developing designs for USA and international companies, including Crossville Tile in the United States and the Spanish company Dune that included the successful 2014-product introduction “Groove”. Also in 2014, Michael wet his feet in a new market when he unveiled a pool collection.
Michael combines his vast production knowledge with his three decades in design trades to create new mosaic designs that are iconic, material and process sensitive and fairly priced. He has been very fortunate to work with production and distribution sources that seek to bring new ideas, materials, production processes and exemplary designs to the industry he loves working in.
“The mosaic market is still virtually untapped for bringing new, creative ideas at prices that are moderate for mass-market appeal,” Michael said. “My hope is to continue to partner with opportunistic companies.”
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About Shelia Butler

Shelia Butler is a growth strategist who shows entrepreneurs how to STREAMLINE and GROW their business. She works hands-on with To-The-Trade professionals helping them with their key strategic and business issues by leveraging her industry expertise and problem-solving rigor to help them make informed decisions more quickly and to solve their toughest and most critical business challenges. Shelia earned her MBA from Baylor University and was the former Co-Owner and Chief Operating Officer of Aidan Gray Home. After selling AGH in 2010, she started a consultancy practice to help other business become more organized, repeatable, and profitable. Shelia is the Producer and Host of To The Trade Radio and Successful Women Talk.